computerClinging to your Internet Explorer 6 browser, even though it's several generations old? Time to give it up.

Microsoft (MSFT), as well as major Internet browser players from Mozilla (Firefox) to Google (GOOG) (Chrome), pointed to HTML5 rich browsers as the place to be now and into the next five years. And IE 6 doesn't support the new standard.

"HTML5 is the future of the Web, and that's why we're investing our resources there," said Giorgio Sardo, a Microsoft technical evangelist, at the Web 2.0 Expo conference in San Francisco. Sardo was one of several panelists speaking Wednesday on the future of browsers. "It allows the same behaviors across browsers. It's the same mark-up language, the same rendering across the browsers. This is what we want for developers."

More Efficient for Developers

HTML5 is far enough along that specifications have been drafted and pieces of it are currently supported in browsers from IE 9's beta version to Chrome and Firefox, as well as Opera. Microsoft, which was slower than the others to embrace HTML5, believes a professional implementation of the technology will eventually happen.

Software developers will largely be the ones to benefit from the HTML5 in browsers, compared to John and Jane Doe, noted Charles McCathieNevile, chief standards officer for Opera Software.

"It'll make things more efficient for designers and developers," McCathieNevile said. "Consumers may notice things like their battery isn't running down as fast."

Consumers and corporate users relying on browsers with HTML5 features may also notice not only a faster browser, but one with video and advertising content deployment capabilities, and drag and drop file features.

Apple's Quarrel With Flash

"It'll all be irrelevant if people are still on IE 6," said Douglas Crockford, an architect at Yahoo!, noting the high percentage of consumers and corporate users that still rely on the older technology.

Last month, Net Applications.com reported IE 8 held a 24.7% market share and IE 6 ranked second, with 17.6%. Firefox 3.6 was third, with its 15.3% stake, while Chrome 4.1 was further down the list with its 5.34% market share. Apple's (AAPL) Safari 4.0 had a 3.86% slice.

One browser creator absent from the panel was Apple's Safari folks. Their presence was missed, given the blowup between Apple and Adobe Systems over Flash, in which Apple CEO Steve Jobs pointed to HTML5 as superior technology Adobe (ADBE) should focus on, rather than criticize his company.

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